Thursday, July 2, 2015

Message to wikipedia: do stop taking yourself so seriously.

This posting is prompted by this new wiki page. It relates to that dreadful mishap in the Taiwan water park, involving the coloured powder that caught fire.

Odd title: it refers to the Taiwan Water Park fireball tragedy (June 2015). But it's wikipedia's over-strict editing policies that are mainly in the frame.

First things first. Let's overlook the fact that no one has called Taiwan "Formosa" for decades. But that description you see above ("Formosa Fun Park") may be the one that the local owners have coined, maybe with a hint of nostalgia, so we'll say no more on that score.

Next: what you see above is NOT the main entry, which I linked to in the preceding post. It's what one sees when one hits the Talk tab.  Why did I hit it? Because I wanted to flag up my suspicion that it may not have been the potentially flammable/explosive nature of the starch-based powder per se, at least in the first instance, but the means used to propel it into the crowd, which I correctly reckoned to have used gas. (Current reports are now confirming that a gas was indeed used in the stage effects equipment, although described improbably as CO2). But look at the injunction circled in red, top left. It reads "This is not a forum for general discussion of the article's subject". Why not? Are we supposed to believe everything we (and the article's author)  read in the initial newspaper reports? What if one suspects it's wrong, or merely incomplete? How else is one supposed to question the veracity of the 'authoritative'  wiki article, except by going to the Talk (or Edit) facility.

But it gets worse - much worse. Look at the second red circle, inside of which on reads "No original research".  Yup, I kid thee not:

And you thought a wiki entry was state-of-the-art?


Having had a brush with wiki editors not so long ago on a different matter (the Turin Shroud) I know only too well what's being said there - that wikipedia is for dissemination of ideas that have previously been published via authoritative  information outlets (often taken to mean peer-reviewed publications, even if that's not always the case). But how can there be authoritative information on so recent a tragedy? There can't.What's more, the preliminary information being published via wiki may confer a spurious degree of accuracy and reliability - all the more reason for needing a channel of communication by which obvious errors can be corrected (obviously) but additionally new interpretations can be flagged up. How can one do that when something seemingly as informal as a "Talk"  facility is closed off to those of us who wish to "discuss" the topic?

I say wikipedia has got it wrong - seriously wrong.  Leaving aside the  hopelessly Byzantine complexity of the site generally, doing its utmost to shut out newcomers from the editing/upgrading process with dense impenetrable jargon,  it makes a fundamental error. It imagines itself to be a finished product 'in the making' so to speak, one that with a few more tweaks here and there is an internet equivalent of a traditional encyclopaedia. Nonsense. Why do folk make a beeline for wikipedia? Merely because its free? I doubt it. Most folk go to wiki for an initial  taster of an unfamiliar topic, not because it's the last word on the subject, but simply the first or maybe second word -  preliminary, provisional,  one that can serve as a basis for further research, maybe one's own.  They like its provisonal feel. As such, "original research" (or OR to give it the wiki abbreviation, as if somehow unfit for spelling in full) is not a dirty word. The process of validating new knowledge is not one that is achieved in a single step, certainly not peer-review (more a means of filtering off shoddy data and conclusions than guaranteeing top quality).

Wikipedia needs to get down off its pedestal, and start opening itself up to newcomers and outsiders via the Talk and Edit functions, removing the 'barbed wire' with which it presently surrounds itself. Wikipedia needs to see itself for what it is - or should be - a uniquely internet-based and thus interactive source of information on topics where opinion is never allowed to gel into unquestionable dogma or shielded from criticism by the walls of an impenetrable fortress.  Wikipedia should be edgy - not stodgy.

Update: Friday 3rd July

Posted to the Telegraph in response to:

Big Rip will end the Universe, scientists claim

It's going to be tough on chemistry teachers during the initial phase of atom expansion, as shells of negative valence electrons become further and further away from the positive nucleus. Electropositive elements, like the alkali metals, will find it easier to shed their outer valence electrons, so lithium will start to behave like sodium, sodium like potassium etc. Conversely, electronegative elements like the halogens will find it harder to attract electrons, so super-reactive fluorine will start to behave like tamer chlorine, etc. It's going to be tough on exam boards, having to keep changing the answers while the questions stay the same, but they can maybe get advice from economics teachers on how to cope. Alternatively, chemistry labs could be relocated to the fringes of black holes, where gravitational forces compress atoms back to their proper 21st century size, restoring standard textbook behaviour, for a few aeons at any rate..

followed by a light-hearted response to this oh-so-predictable comment:

Lots of those who support AGW tell me that when I query why they believe we should all go green; that's after they've called me a denier of course.<

There'll be less and less to worry about re AGW. The planet and everything else will be cooling with expansion of the universe needless to say. But micro-expansion of space and CO2 molecules will help divert attention. The carbon-oxygen bonds will weaken so that present infrared absorption shifts to longer wavelengths. There will then be government decrees on maximum listening to radio or watching TV or use of mobile phones (back-radiation causing our microwave ovens to overcook). Water molecules will be easier to split by photolysis, so green plants will have a field day, photosynthesizing like crazy, gobbling up the last of the CO2. There will then have to be brainstorming on what to poke down dormant volcanoes to make them erupt and replenish CO2 (some still being needed for fire extinguishers and keeping a head on keg beer). That's supposing anyone will be able to cut their way through the jungle and other biomass to reach base camp.
Update: Friday 3 July, 11:00

These two comments have appeared under a posting entitled  "Is Colin Berry Onto Something?" (laced with the site-owners customary admonition re my manner of dealing with  pseudo-scientific claptrap and those who have indulged in it, eminent Shroud so-called investigators included, whether living or dead, STURP or non-STURP).


I'm not sure whether the latest model can be described as a "scorch" hypothesis or not. I guess it's a scorch if one used a hot iron to bring up the colour in that flour imprint. But there are other ways of doing that which don't require heat, e.g. nitric acid, or which use a combination of heat and chemistry (hot limewater). It's probably better to avoid the term "scorch" for the new model anyway, since the aim is to selectively colour the flour imprint, leaving the linen unaffected (at least outside the imprint area - though what happens under the imprint at the flour/linen interface is anyone's guess).

I  call it the Blue Peter model, since it's one that can be done at home quite safely by a 10 year old, assuming they can be trusted not to spill flour paste on the carpet, and to exercise care with using a very hot electric iron (max setting). It's that simple, and for that reason is hardly likely to be suitable for the peer-reviewed scientific literature. It was conceived in real-time on the internet, and thus it will probably remains so, unless or until somebody in the MSM considers it has some mileage.

Thanks btw to the mysterious "reader" in Palo Alto who considers my model to be getting less attention than it deserves (my thoughts too, but then I would say that, wouldn't I?). There's a simple explanation, reader of Palo Alto, already alluded to. My model is TOO simple. It insults the collective intelligence and mindset of mainstream Shroudology!

Which brings me back to wikipedia and its vexatious straitjacket policies re editing and updating of existing articles. There are such things as overarching ideas, ones that need no report to a peer-reviewed journal. The world has a right to be informed of new ideas, even if the supporting data have yet to be garnered. Wikipedia is in fact suppressing ideas.Wikipedia has set its face against the world of ideas.

Update (13:30)  reminder for anyone new to the site who hasn't the faintest clue what I'm talking about (above)  re the Turin Shroud. It's to do with how the image (faint body image that is, not blood) was made, and why. Let's start with why. The 'scorch hypothesis' attracted initially because it accounted for the tan colour, the STURP belief that it was chemically-altered linen fibres with no known additives, the negative image, the 3D-properties even, assuming a hot metal statue or bas relief had been used to imprint a scorch image. But why - why a scorch? There was a rationale, albeit a long shot, based on the claim that the first known owner of the Shroud, one Geoffroi de Charny, had an uncle with an almost identical name, Geoffroi de Charney, who along with Jacques de Molay was one of several Knights Templar burned (or rather slow-roasted) at the stake in Paris in 1314. Maybe the 'scorched-on' image was an artistic attempt to depict the cruel, sadistic manner of those Templar executions. It was even possible to find clues on the Lirey Pilgrim's badge to death by roasting rather than crucifixion (assuming one was looking for them, needless to say ;-)

All that changed when we learned of the discovery of a mould for a second Lirey badge with an inset face, clearly of Jesus, above the word SUAIRE (face cloth), suggesting that the Shroud image too was an imprint, and one moreover in sweat (and blood) that matched the then celebrated Veil of Veronica.
So there was now an entirely new rationale for the Shroud image that needed to be considered, namely that it was fabricated to represent a SWEAT (and blood) imprint. How might that have been achieved, using medieval technology?

Abandon the scorch hypothesis, especially as it needs hot metal. Develop a new model, one that created an imprint from a real person that can be claimed to have been formed from sweat - 1300 years earlier - such that it would be yellowed with age, but still faint.

The obvious option is to find a faint yellow dye, to imprint with that dye in one go. But that would look like a crude imprint. People would see that for what it was immediately. A dye would not have been well-received by the 20th/21st century scientific eye either - tending to soak through the weave to give a prominent reverse-side image too (which the Shroud lacks). STURP found no evidence for dyes, pigments etc.

However, there is a more nuanced alternative to a one-step dye procedure if one adheres to the logic of (a) initial imprinting with sweat and (b) subsequent yellowing with age.

One selects a pale-coloured substitute (proxy?) for sweat which one paints evenly all over one's real-life human subject. One then imprints onto linen. One releases one's subject to go and get showered. One lets that imprint dry, and then, at leisure,  one does something that selectively colours up the imprint to make it a yellow or yellow/brown colour, WITHOUT significantly altering the colour of the non-imprinted areas of the linen.

Back in April I tried a number of different proxies for sweat - egg white, milk, starch etc etc, but there was one that was found serendipitously to be superior to the others by virtue of its adhesive properties. allowing linen to stick to human skin, conforming to fine details of relief, like bunched fingers etc. It was ordinary plain white flour, stirred with cold water to make a thin paste. It dried reasonably quickly to leave an almost invisible imprint, while the subject could easily wash off the non-toxic flour.

All that remained was to find a means of making that flour imprint turn from off-white to yellow (or yellow-brown).   Nitric acid was tested, first as vapour, then solution. Both worked well. Then limewater was tested briefly, and seemed to work satisfactorily if hot. Then simple pressing with a very hot iron was tried, and that worked too.

Thus we have a simple two-stage imprinting process that works with a real person - 'paint' from head to toe with flour paste, imprint onto linen, then develop chemically to convert one or more flour components using either chemical OR thermal treatments, OR a combination of both.

In fact, things didn't happen as described above, i.e. as a short simple logical pathway. I wish they had. The pathway went round the houses. Here briefly is how we got from A to B via Z, Y,X, W etc.

Joe Accetta published a paper for his St.Louis (2014) presentation, proposing that the TS image had been obtained by woodblock printing using the kind of oak gall or iron/oak gall inks that were available in the 14th century. Whilst I was a little sceptical on account of the risk, indeed likelihood, of reverse-side coloration,  he had suggested that gum arabic had been used to increase ink viscosity. There was a mention too of the additional possibility of a mordanting action which assists with attachment of dye to fibre. I had been wondering if sulphuric acid might play a role in image formation , given a hint in the 1981 STURP summary and in the work of Luigi Garlaschelli, quoting Joe Nickell also.  Hugh Farey too had mentioned acids at one point.  But what was the source of acid? Might it have been there without folk knowing it? Possibly so, if alum had been used as mordant, because it hydrolyses to form sulphuric acid. So  I set up experiments using tannins from pomegranate rind as dyes with added alum mordants, but saw no obvious acid etching of the linen. That was followed by tests with sulphuric acid alone at a range of high concentrations. But there was only faint coloration of linen, even at the highest concentration tested.

That was the cue to try another strong  mineral acid , namely  HNO3 (nitric acid).  That produced a much better discoloration of linen. But why? By what chemical mechanism? Oxidation of carbohydrates was the obvious one, but there was another to consider, namely nitration of proteins via the so-called xanthoproteic reaction. If there was enough surface protein in linen to account for the discoloration by nitration alone,  then what would be the effect of supplementing the intrinsic proteins of flax fibres in linen with more from outside? What protein sources could be used to coat the linen? Milk? Egg white? Gelatin? White flour paste? It was then a small step to adopt a different approach. Instead of coating all the linen, why not use the protein and/or carbohydrate source as imprinting medium, and then use nitric acid to develop the colour.  That way, one gets a yellow image against a much paler linen background, even if the latter is slightly altered by the chemical developer. As I say, a somewhat roundabout route.

Why bother with the chemical reasoning? Why not simply try this or that recipe, working one's way systematically across the likely medieval pantry shelf? Answer: fine if one gets lucky quickly. But supposing one does not? Chances are one would lose interest quickly and abandon the project. The advantage of the systematic chemical approach is that it usually throws up something interesting along the way to keep one interested. One is far more likely to stick at it when following a methodical scientific pathway than if simply taking shots in the dark.

Update: Friday, June 3

Have just googled (taiwan water park fireball).
Page 1 of returns :

The wiki article - the one I'm not allowed to discuss, even under the Talk Tab -  is near the top of the returns. My blog posting, suggesting that a flammable gas (butane?) had been used to propel the powder into the crowd is directly underneath. (See inside my yellow box).  How crazy is that - I'm not allowed to flag up the flammable gas idea on the wiki page, despite there being a sizeable number of visits to my posting? What do I have to do? Get it published in Nature? Get it published in a tabloid newspaper?  Write a pdf for that looks for all the world like a peer-reviewed paper, but has probably had token scrutiny only?
Update Saturday

Imagine for a moment that I had accompanied my 'Blue Peter'  (paste, press 'n' iron) model of the Shroud  with this photograph:

Imagine I had said that what you see above is the gold standard that all other models have to aim at.

What, you may ask? That discoloration on a piece of linen? Where's the image? Where's the negative tone reversal? Where's the 3D properties?

Where indeed? Yet in a galaxy far, far away, one called Shroudology, that photograph was presented just yesterday as the model that I and others have to aim for. It was produced by blitzing linen with a laser beam radiating in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum. Lasers are man-made, needless to say. There are no grounds for thinking that the laser effect exists anywhere else in the Universe. Even if it did, what we see (or rather faintly discern) in the photograph is not an image, any more than a patch of sunburned  or suntanned skin is an "image". As such it is totally irrelevant in  any discussion on modelling the Shroud IMAGE. What we see is in fact an egregious example of what I stated earlier to be my chief bugbear as a retired researcher browsing the newspapers and internet - PSEUDO-SCIENCE! What we see above is a misapplication of technology, one that still postures in the MSM as cutting edge science. Shame on Italy's ENEA for allowing this intelligence-insulting nonsense to continue under its banner and patronage.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

What really caused the Taiwan water park fireball horror? Liquified butane propellant?

Here's what I added as the opinionated equivalent of a news flash, tacked  onto the tail end of the previous posting (unashamed marketing of my absurdly simple, some might say simplistic, white flour/hot iron model for the 'enigmatic' image on that Turin Shroud).

Yes, we know that airborne powders can produce fireballs and/or explosions. As a student  (1963) I used to work a night shift during the summer vacation at Quaker Oats (puffed wheat gunner!). I'm pretty sure I saw a brief powder fireball one night on a deserted upper floor with storage bins,  though I told no one, for fear I'd be laughed at.

But something has to disperse the dust first. What dispersed that coloured powder in the Taipei water park? ? Was it a propellant, as in aerosol spray cans? Might it have been liquified butane gas (boiling point -1 degrees C)?

Here's what I wrote yesterday. So far, there's no reason to change a single word, while we await the outcome of the official investigation.

From yesterday:

Update: Sunday 28 June  11:20 French time (unrelated to Shroud)

So what caused the terrible fireball at the Taiwan water park gathering, leaving hundreds with serious burns?

So far we've been told next to nothing about the chemistry, except that a "coloured powder ignited".

If one looks at the video clip that accompanies the BBC report (see link) one sees a cloud of white vapour coming from the stage immediately before the conflagration. At a normal gig that would be the fog produced when dry ice (solid CO2) is dropped into water.

Dry ice and water - NOT the effect used at the Taiwan water park.
But CO2 extinguishes fire. Might it have been liquified propane  (BPt. -42 degrees C) or more probably butane (Bpt -1 degrees C) instead, the latter as used in aerosol spray cans etc? In other words, it wasn't the coloured solid, whatever that was, that was the culprit, but a flammable gaseous propellant. Propane gas (C3H8) has about 1.5 times the density of air, butane (C4H10) more than double, so would tend briefly to hug the ground before dispersal via diffusion. We shall see. Burns are terrible things. My sympathies to all the victims and their loved ones.

Update on that BBC report:  14:25 French time

"The fire department said the powder ,used to create a party atmosphere, may have ignited due to the heat of the lights on the stage, or from sparks from machinery.
The substance is also used in other countries. It is made of dried corn and can be highly flammable, says the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei.
The 519 victims were sent to 41 hospitals, and 413 are still in hospital, say municipal authorities."

Flammable solid maybe, but it still needed a propellant gas to shower it over the crowd. I still suspect itr was the propellant gas that ignited first.

Update 16:40

Here's a freeze-frame from the video clip that accompanied the Telegraph's report:

Video still: Taiwan water park, immediately prior to fireball

A instant later, the white cloud of vapour (butane?) was replaced by an orange fireball.

Further reading: see the wiki entry on 'Theatrical smoke and fog".

Here's a particular (hair-raising) section, meaning not entirely clear due to missing words and/or punctuation, that may or may not be relevant to what happened in that water park. Note the reference to propane and kerosene:

An obsolete method for creating theatrical fog on-stage (although the technique is still commonly used in motion pictures) is to use a device known as a thermal fogger, initially designed for distributing pesticide, which aspirates a petroleum product (typically kerosene or propane) ignites the fuel, and then mixes in air and pesticide to create a dense fog. For theatrical purposes the pesticide is typically replaced with glycol, glycol/water mixtures, or water. This technique is similar to the smoke generators used by militaries to create smoke screens, and is generally only used outdoors due to the volume of fog produced and the petroleum fuel required. 

Also from wiki, a passage from its new entry on the tragedy  (my bolding)

Investigators raised the question of whether the powder was ignited by a cigarette or spark; the supplier of the flammable, starch-based powder said "if it's in dense quantities and if it's hot, it can catch fire". Organizers had purchased three tons of the powder, and wrote on their Facebook page that it consisted of cornstarch and food coloring. The powder was sprayed from the stage onto concert-goers "at high velocity".[23]

It omits to say what method of propulsion was used.

Further update:

  Here's a new video clip taken from behind the stage. 

The accompanying text says that high-pressure CO2 was used to propel the powder into the crowd, and that ignition had occurred at the nozzle delivering gas. That makes no sense whatsoever. As mentioned earlier, CO2 is used to extinguish fire. What seems more likely is a mix-up of cylinders, with butane or maybe propane having been used in place of CO2. 

Update: 1st July 2015:  Changing the subject: I have just added this comment to an Allison Pearson article on the Telegraph. (This blogger has been ridiculing the national obsession with demonising the so-called motorway middle-lane hoggers for more years than he cares to remember).

Pre-script: From the Campaign for Better Transport site:

Lorries involved in rising percentage of fatal crashes
22 October 2013
Lorries are involved in a increasing percentage of fatal traffic accidents on Britain's roads. New analysis has shown that last year HGVs were implicated in more than half of fatal motorway accidents and one-in-five fatal accidents on A-roads, continuing negative trends over the last five years.

Yes, the Highway Code simply refuses to take on board the reality of mixing convoys of HGVs with private motorists, many with their precious family members on board.
The Highway Code is an anachronism where motorways are concerned. It's a poor reflection on our police and motoring organizations that they continue to demonize the 65 -70 mph middle lane 'hogger,' essentially legitimizing the 70+ mph middle lane hogger, specifically the sort who resorts to intimidation and tailgating as soon as he encounters someone going slightly slower than himself, and refusing to use the third lane to overtake.

PS Here's a link to an item that appeared on the BBC's site some 2 years ago.

It starts with an AA spokesman being quoted about research that shows that middle lane hogging is bad because it allegedly reduces motorway capacity (not a word about safety). And who did the research? Answer: the RAC Foundation we are told. Later in the article we have an academic being highly dismissive of the RAC's conclusion that hogging cuts capacity by a third. Regardless, since when has it been the job of motoring organizations to do traffic flow modelling - a highly complex business - especially if one tries to factor in driver psychology influenced as often as not by survival instinct. What gives the lie to RAC research is the observation that when motorways are fully occupied most of the time, as is the case with certain stretches of the M25, one finds very little lane switching at all, effectively 3 lane "hogging" (see that BBC link).

I tried to find some quality research on the pros and cons of middle lane hogging. The old Road Research Laboratory, now privatized, calls itself the Transport Research Laboratory, but nothing came back when I searched its website under a range of keywords.One suspects there is NO quality research on the topic.
Personally I think the AA and RAC should butt out of things that are beyond their brief and/or competence. Why should they be concerned anyway with motorways being used to their full capacity? They are dangerous enough as it is, used at half capacity, when private motorists are forced to mix it with lane-switching HGVs in Lanes 1 and 2. Would they not be better occupied pressing for more roads, dual carriageways as well as motorways, or even designating new roads for HGV or non-HGV use only?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

That Man on the Turin Shroud: the mystery may finally be solved - at least in principle - plus that Taiwan water park fireball horror.

I say we're nearly there

Let's stop beating about the bush shall we ? The image of the man on the Turin Shroud is an imprint (not a painting as Charles Freeman would have us believe), I repeat,  an IMPRINT. It's a contact imprint, to be more precise (no physical contact, no image).  This blogger/retired scientist has previously enumerated at least 15 reasons why the TS image an imprint, and does not need to repeat them here.(But since they are buried in the tail end of a previous posting, I shall be listing them here later as an appendix).

This posting focuses on just one feature of the Shroud image which is consistent with the view that the image is a contact imprint. I then make what some will see as a bald assertion, namely that if it's possible to reproduce the 'look' of that image, with its imprint features, then it almost certainly IS an imprint.

The onus would then be on others who think otherwise, who have their own hypotheses, or as often or not fantasies as to how the image was produced, to do what I (with some assistance from my wife)  have done this morning, namely to model their ideas experimentally. If they cannot, or will not do that, then their ideas are unscientific, and need  detain this scientist no further.

Here's the selected feature of interest - the crossed hands. Here's how they appear on the Shroud.

Shroud Scope image (Durante 2002) no further enhancement
As above, with my standard photo-enhancement settings (-7,100,15 brightness/contrast/midtone values in MS Office Picture Manager.

Why do I say that's a contact imprint? Answer: the spindly fingers (see previous modelling with a tacky paint-like substance) and the pale area immediately below the upper hand where the linen has bridged, leaving a non-contact air gap.

Can it be modelled?

Answer: yes. approximately, what you see here being the second attempt using the more controllable of two alternative modes of presenting linen to flour paste-coated subject.

The mode? What I call LOTTO (Linen On Top, Then Overlay) - a  towel - gently pressed downwards. That's as distinct from yesterday, using the less manageable LUWU (Linen Underneath, With Underlay, which gave excessive lateral distortion).The imprinting medium? Yes, a simple paste or glue of plain white flour and water, mixed to give a runny consistency.  Stage 2 development of tan-colour? Simply pressing with a hot iron.

Photoedited image? Certainly.  used the same settings as the earlier ones for the Shroud Scope image(-7,100, 15). Fix? Judge for yourself. Here's the unedited photograph, prior to rotation to assist comparison with the Shroud.

"As is'  imprint., withoit photo-enhancement.
Note the relative absence of lateral distortion. Was that entirely due to using LOTTO instead of LUWU? No. There's a simple way of avoiding lateral distortion in this model. Apply paste only to those parts of the relief that one wished to be imaged, i.e. the highest relief, to get a bas relief type effect, avoiding the sides.

Is the image reasonably permanent? Impossible to tell, unless one has a handy cathedral in which to store it, and lots of patience (several centuries at least). But the image does withstand (a) repeated rinsing  and wringing out with cold water, drying and ironing:

Water-washed, before (left) and after (right) photo-enhancement (-7,100,15)

and (b)the above,  followed by application of soap and water, followed again by drying and ironing.

Soap -washed, before (left) and after (right) photoenhancement (-7,100,15)

Conclusion:there would appear to be nothing in the least bit mysterious about the 2D image characteristics of the Shroud image, once it is appreciated that the image is a contact imprint (the negative light/dark reversed nature of the image alone should be sufficient to conclude that the image is an imprint - NOT a painting, not even a faded, degraded painting).

What about the "profoundly mysterious"  3D properties of the Shroud image? Do my imprints respond to 3D enhancement in ImageJ?

Judge for yourself, dear reader:

3D rendering: click to enlarge
Finally: light/dark reversal (to change the negative imprint to a pseudo-positive image, mimicking a photograph, as per Secondo Pia (1898)?

Simple light/dark reversal in Image J
As above, with 3D enhancement.

That'll do for now. Publish and be damned.
I say the Turin shroud is a medieval fake, produced by a simple two stage procedure: imprinting with an organic substance (which may well have been white flour, which has convenient adhesive properties)followed  by second stage colour development (thermal in this posting, though chemical development is also feasible - see previous postings which used nitric acid or limewater).

Update,  Thursday 25 June: I shall repeat the above experiment today using my wife's crossed hands instead of my own. To show the versatility of the technique  there will be subtraction of an unwanted feature (rings), simply by taping over, thus protecting from the imprinting medium and, conversely,  maybe the addition of something else, e.g. paste in an area that would normally escape imprinting.

 The result was broadly similar to the one above, except for the additional tests. The location of the protected ring can be see as a blank rectangle.There  blank region  where one hand abuts on the other was marked with three small dabs of flour paste from a paint brush. What these tests show is the ease with which wanted or unwanted features can be added or removed by masking or 'doctoring' the imprint prior to colour development.

The 3D-rendered version of the above image was somewhat disappointing:

The reasons are probably technical, to do with using too viscous a paste which did not apply evenly (see banding on right wrist). You win some, you lose some.

I shall also make a start on that Appendix (why the TS is an imprint, not a painting), but build it up in instalments (no need for a rush job: what's another few hours or days extra on a 3.5 year project now drawing to a close?). Expect the first 3 or 4 points later in the day. (They were added, and have since disappeared - the Blogger Editing Bug is back!)

Simple answers to simple questions

1. But what about the blood? You have to explain the blood.

The priority on this site has been the  "enigmatic" body image (negative, superficial, 3D properties, impossible to reproduce by any known technology etc). So why divert attention to the blood when confronted with answers to the supposed image conundrum?  Blood can wait till later (while noting that the new procedure allows the forger to 'paint' the subject with imprinting medium first, then 'paint' with blood on top of imprinting medium, then imprint, thus ensuring there's a strong, direct contact between blood and linen with imprinting medium on top instead of underneath (in agreement with the Adler/Heller results with protease enzyme).

2. To stand any chance of being taken seriously, you will have to match every single detail of the Shroud.

No I don't. The Shroud we see today is unlikely to be the same in all respects as the one that existed 700 years ago or longer. What has to be matched in a scientific approach are those features that make the Shroud uniquely different from all other images from the pre-photographic era, notably the negative image, the absence of known pigments, dyes etc, the extreme superficiality etc.

3. There was no white flour in medieval times, and even if there had been, it would have differed from the modern flour used in your experiments  (genetics, added chemicals, nutrients etc.)

Flour in my experiments is a forger's 'proxy' for bodily sweat, because it makes a good imprinting medium, being sticky, and because it's easily convertible from white to yellow with heat or chemicals. However, the forger may have used something different that served the same purpose - imprinting medium/source of yellow colour. So it hardly matters whether white flour was available or not. In fact, it's a common misconception that white flour only became available after the arrival of 19th century roller milling. The well-off with deep pockets could purchase white flour, which was easily if laboriously made by sieving stone-ground wholemeal flour through fabric screens to remove the large particles of bran and wheatgerm embryo).

4. If the technology for forging the Shroud existed in the 14th century, then why is there only one Shroud?

Answer: because someone who had the resources to fabricate a convincing holy relic, one that can be claimed to be the actual linen used to envelop the crucified Jesus, would have needed to ensure that the technology remained a secret known only to the perpetrators. It would have compromised the mission objectives entirely if there had been so much as a single prototype version abandoned in the corner of a workshop.

5. What gives you the right to insult the intelligence of scores of academics and professionals, many with distinguished records of research, with your tacky simplistic model which you yourself have described as a Blue Peter 'make'?

If the model were that simplistic, this retired researcher, who also has a record of research and modest achievement, would not have needed 3.5 years to conceive of it. The trouble with arriving late to an active area of research is the deadweight of 'received wisdom' that in many instances has hardened into rock-solid dogma. It's hard not to be influenced by the big cheeses of Shroudology who descend onto websites to say one is barking up the wrong tree, that such and such was discounted decades ago, that one should "go acquaint oneself with the literature". In fact the current model incorporates many existing ideas - from Ray Rogers, Luigi Garlaschelli, Hugh Farey and Joe Accetta. But the key aspect was the realization that the body imprint was intended to represent ancient yellowed sweat, that it was not intended to represent a product of post-mortem putrefaction, nor a miraculous image imprinted by a flash of highly energetic radiation, of a type unknown to science, a signature of  resurrection, or as some would have us belive, a love-letter to modern man (that being the case, why the 'wrong' answer for radiocarbon dating?).

6. It's just a rehash of the scorch hypothesis, and we all know that was ruled out a long time ago (only the most superficial layers of Shroud fibres are affected, no change to the central medulla, lack of uv fluorescence etc).

Sure, the current variant uses heat to develop the Shroud-like coloration in the imprint, but the temperature needed to do that was insufficient to affect that of the non-imprinted linen, except maybe for an exceedingly faint tinge which could be mistaken for aged linen (a beneficial effect?). But other alternatives exist - like nitric acid and other chemicals. Scorching is just one way of producing yellowing, one that requires pyrolysis (thermal degradation) of the linen fibres themselves. Use of an extraneous coating layer (flour etc) opens up additional possibilities where chemistry is concerned (caramelization of sugars, Maillard reactions between sugars and protein, nitration of proteins etc).

Update 30 June: comment posted to a  Telegraph article (Science section) by Lily Willis:

The real reason your eyes go red after swimming isn't chlorine, but urine


ColinB an hour ago 

It's not news. In fact, it's been known for decades that chlorine reacts with the nitrogenous waste compounds of sweat, urine etc to make nitrogen trichloride (NCl3). The pure compound is an oily liquid that is highly explosive. Yes, it has a very strong and distinctive smell of stale over-subscribed "swimming pool" (unhygienic ones that is). As the article indicates, a "shock" treatment with surplus chlorine helps break down the NCl3, but is a last resort, prevention (pre-showering and/or bladder control) being better than cure.

On a different matter I'd like to tell science writer Lily and anyone else who's interested about my latest experiments for modelling the Shroud of Turin image. I think I know how it was done. Anyone interested? Do you read the comments under your own article Lily? I call it the Blue Peter method (needing only linen,flour paste and a hot iron) but it took 3 years of hard slog with scores of progress/lack of progress reports to figure it out!

The breakthrough came when I realized that the Shroud body image was intended by its medieval fabricators (forgers?) to represent a SWEAT imprint, so in a sense there's an affinity with this topic of bodily secretions and their aftermath.

(Link to this site)

Update: Sunday 28 June  11:20 French time (unrelated to Shroud)

So what caused the terrible fireball at the Taiwan water park gathering, leaving hundreds with serious burns?

So far we've been told next to nothing about the chemistry, except that a "coloured powder ignited".

If one looks at the video clip that accompanies the BBC report (see link) one sees a cloud of white vapour coming from the stage immediately before the conflagration. At a normal gig that would be the fog produced when dry ice (solid CO2) is dropped into water.

Dry ice and water - NOT the effect used at the Taiwan water park.
But CO2 extinguishes fire. Might it have been liquified propane or butane instead, as used in spray cans etc? In other words, it wasn't the coloured solid, whatever that was, that was the culprit, but a flammable gaseous propellant. Propane gas (C3H8) has about 1.5 times the density of air, butane (C4H10) more than double, so would tend briefly to hug the ground before dispersal via diffusion. We shall see. Burns are terrible things. My sympathies to all the victims and their loved ones.

Update on that BBC report:  14:25 French time

"The fire department said the powder ,used to create a party atmosphere, may have ignited due to the heat of the lights on the stage, or from sparks from machinery.
The substance is also used in other countries. It is made of dried corn and can be highly flammable, says the BBC's Cindy Sui in Taipei.
The 519 victims were sent to 41 hospitals, and 413 are still in hospital, say municipal authorities."

Flammable solid maybe, but it still needed a propellant gas to shower it over the crowd. I still suspect itr was the propellant gas that ignited first.

Update 16:40

Here's a freeze-frame from the video clip that accompanied the Telegraph's report:

Video still: Taiwan water park, immediately prior to fireball

A instant later, the white cloud of vapour (butane?) was replaced by an orange fireball.

Update 18:30 Sunday 28 June

This science bod finds accused of "extreme blogging" and been book-ended with Stephen E. Jones of Perth, Australia

Reminder: this blogger has been reporting his attempts to model the Shroud in over 300 postings, here and on his specialist Shroud site, since December 2011. What you read here describes in moderate language the conviction that the goal is in sight - that the image is a contact imprint, obtained by a two step procedure.  Stephen Jones has done no modelling whatsoever. He is not a research investigator, certainly not in any experimental hands-on sense. He is perhaps better described as someone with a particular brand of hardline theology, one who is polemical - talking up those studies that are pro-authenticity, and attempting to dismiss, sometimes in the most contemptuous terms  those that aren't. The idea that the two of us are both extreme, opposite sides of the same coin, so to speak,  is a classic Porter windup, as was his concluding with: "Is there some way to put these two in a room together and tell them they can’t come out until they agree on everything?"  

This blogger sorely regrets the time and effort spent on communicating his evolving ideas on that site. Porter is a purveyor of glib. He has nothing useful to say - nothing whatsoever. He and his site merely act as a sponge for other people's content.

Update 29th June

Have decided to make a new posting of that frightful Taiwan fireball.

Returning to the Shroud, where are these mysterious locations on a man's recumbent body that could only have been imaged by "action at a distance"? Please list them.

Reminder: in the latest model, using white flour paste as imprinting medium, there is a truly amazing moulding of linen  to contours, as my photographs show. There is no need to invoke "action at a distance". That simply opens the door to pseudo-science (self-collimated radiation, unknown to science, wavelength unspecified, able to project an imprint across air gaps onto linen as if the latter were a photographic emulsion).

But then I've asked that before, several times, and received no response. Why bother trying to communicate with those who simply parrot their mantras and who refuse to respond in detail to one's questions and objections? 

I repeat: please specify the parts of the naked human anatomy that are visible on the Shroud image but which would be inaccessible in a contact-only model, with manual fingertip moulding.  A numbered list would be nice.

Further update:we're also told that there's an unacceptable degree of lateral distortion in my contact imprints of crossed hands. Really?

But the individual making that judgement of Solomon (same as the one above) cannot have read this posting in detail. One can have as much or as little lateral distortion as one wishes, depending on how much of the "sides" one decides to paint with imprinting medium, or indeed, tries to avoid altogether.  I in fact over-painted when doing my wife's hands, having strayed onto the base of the thumb, which explains that otherwise peculiar and unsightly bulge one sees in the imprint.

In fact, I  recently came across a paper recently (must try and locate)  in which someone was saying there was a small degree of lateral distortion in the Shroud image, and that it would be difficult if not impossible for a forger to reproduce it. Talk about wanting to have one's cake and eat it...

The usual response one sees to the crossed hands on the Shroud is that the fingers are too long, too bony, too x-ray like. Some have even gone so far as to suggest Marfan's syndrome!  Given the response to my own (or wife's crossed hands) as too distorted, we maybe have an explanation for those TS hands: the fabricators were so concerned at the prospect of "normal" hand imprints being seen as too pudgy or distorted they decided to err in the opposite direction, deploying a minimalist application of imprinting medium, and happy to hear the hands as somewhat skeletal, with fingers  too long and spindly. That's better than hearing them described as an obvious imprint. "Skeletal" at least implies death, preceded maybe with acute trauma.

Then there's the legion of folk queuing up to say "your image looks nothing like the one on the Shroud".

What they mean is, nothing like the original one that was on the Shroud, that may have well been subject to some 'toning down', if only as a result of the testing of its permanence in the years following its first appearance, compounded by the effects of centuries of wear and tear. (Link) Which brings us to the present: it's said that the image disappears if one tries to view it at close quarters. One has to step back 3 metres or more to see it's an image of a man. So how can anyone be so certain as to the 'look' of the Shroud image when their view is based on a limited number of photographs, more or less enhanced to improve contrast against background?

As I've said many times before, this researcher is not attempting to produce a facsimile copy of the TS, and would be unwise to do so, given the uncertainties of ageing etc. He's MODELLING the TS image, attempting to put ticks in all those boxes for the various key descriptors like faint, superficial, negative, 3D properties, no unequivocal reverse side image,  no uv fluorescence, no known pigments or dyes, strippability when fibres are pulled from Mylar adhesive tape etc etc.

There are those who seem to skip that list, and focus on characteristics like "image resolution" "fuzziness" etc, with little or no attempt to quantify. They may indeed be the ones that dictate first impressions when comparing the TS with model systems. if that is the case, then it's worth making clear immediately that these are early days regarding the present model. We know that washing the primary image in water, and then soap, leads to fainter, arguably fuzzier image. But there are other ways of achieving the same result, notably by using a progressively thinner, runnier flour paste (yet to be tested). What matters right now is the principle: the simple 'Blue Peter' yes-you-kiddies-can-do-this-in-your-own- home methodology ticks  a sizeable number of boxes, which is more than can be said for those high energy laser beams that so far leave nothing more than a tiny brown patch on linen (no image!). My medieval technology may seem primitive by comparison (deliberately so) but it does produce an image ( as a contact imprint)  as anyone can confirm for themselves, in their own home, in the space of 30 minutes or so.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

A new and simple thermal imprinting model for the Turin Shroud needing only plain white flour and a hot iron - in 12 pictures.

1. Make a thin slurry of plain white flour with cold water.
2.Paint skin with slurry
3. Drape linen over coated skin
4. Gently pat linen to mould to contours.
5. Peel back linen. Flour imprint scarcely visible at this stage.
6. But most of the slurry transfers to the linen, being sticky.
7. Press with hot iron on opposite side from imprint (highest temperature setting) on part of the flour imprint. Leave one side cold as control.
8. Result - a faint image, reminiscent of the Turin Shroud.
9. Is the image wash-resistant? Detach a test portion (right)
10.The imprint withstood 15 minutes immersion in cold water
11. Would it withstand washing with soap?
12. Answer - yes, though a little fainter.

This is very simple technology, needless to say, requiring only plain flour and a hot flat iron (smoothing irons must surely have existed in the 14th century, when the Shroud of Turin was first put on public display (Lirey, France, circa 1357).

Regardless of authenticity, this simple demonstration is my answer to those investigators in Italy and elsewhere who claim that the image of Shroud of Turin can never be reproduced under laboratory conditions. It CAN be reproduced, at least as regards macroscopic aspects, in one's own home living room. Microscopic characteristics need further investigation.

Update: Sunday 21 June

Mechanism of enhanced browning in image zone? Presumably a non-enzymatic Maillard browning reaction between reducing sugars and proteins.

 reducing sugars + protein (or free amino acids etc)  ->  complex mix of yellow melanoidins

(The reducing sugars provide reactive carbonyl groups , the protein etc provides reactive amino groups)

But there are 3 combinations that will need to be considered  that are not mutually exclusive, i.e. two or more may be operating simultaneously:

 Reducing sugar (white flour) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (linen fibres)
 Reducing sugar (white flour) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (white flour)
 Reducing sugar (linen fibres) reacting at high temperature with protein/amino acids (white flour)

The fourth combination,  i.e. reducing sugar (linen fibres)/protein/amino acids (linen fibres), is not listed since that would account only for the slight "scorching" of background linen one sees outside the image areas, i.e. background coloration.

There is also the possibility that proteins are not involved, that the tan coloured image is the result of pyrolysis (aka caramelisation) reactions involving carbohydrates only. Expect to see a postscript here shortly (a few days at most) on the effect of replacing whole white flour with gluten-free starch. The latter will use starch granules isolated from white flour by water-washing and sedimentation, as described in an earlier post here in which nitric acid was used for  colour development of the primary imprint, dubbed the "stick 'n' stain" variant of the generic 2-stage imprinting/developing model.

Speaking of which, nitric acid that is, which was the first means of Stage 2 colour development to be reported on this site, its use is emblazoned on the banner of this blogger's specialist Shroud site., despite being a vicious corrosive reagent towards human flesh,.

Present banner (June 2015) on my site

 But which of the two chief variants of 2-stage imprinting (3 if one counts the promising results with hot limewater) would medieval forgers have been more likely to use:(a)  the use of a hot smoothing iron, as described here, or (b) exposure to nitric acid vapour or solution?

Is the hot iron (or maybe an oven roasting) more likely than treatment with a novelty chemical reagent that was probably little known in the 14th century outside of alchemists' secretive laboratories? Do I need to substitute a collage showing the steps in this posting for the one you see above, if only to flag up the variant that is more user-friendly, i.e. safer to deploy in one's own 21st century home should any readers be minded to check out the claims made here?

I shall make the collage, but may not replace the present one immediately. Better maybe to hold fire on whether the putative forger of the Turin Shroud was more physically or chemically minded. (He did not need to know the chemistry of Maillard reactions to make an educated guess that a hot iron would  scorch a flour imprint more readily than the linen on which it was deposited). (Afterthought: I could make a twin-collage, showing both the "iron" versus "non-iron" method. There's no need to make an instant decision as to which was more probable in the mid-14th century.)

But there again, our medieval forgers, even if alchemist- (aka proto-chemist)- assisted, did not need to know the molecular mechanism as to how nitric acid reacts with proteins to give a yellow colour (xanthoproteic reaction). All they needed to know was its reputation for staining skin yellow, and then have seized on that as a way of simulating an ancient  then 1300 year old whole body imprint (as sweat) by imprinting with ANY convenient organic substance - a proxy for sweat - and developing chemically with any reagent that might turn it a permanent non-fading yellow.

Here's a link to a site on the history of ironing. It's not entirely clear when the box iron, loaded with hot charcoal, first put in an appearance (one trusts they knew to keep the windows open, to avoid deadly carbon monoxide poisoning).

Box irons are still used to this day, e.g. in India:

Box iron with lid raised to show smoking hot charcoal

 Might there not have been a risk of getting red hot embers onto one's prize linen? Is anyone thinking what I'm thinking. Yes, those "L-shaped poker holes".

Source acknowledged(with Autocorrect in MS Picture Manager):
Were they incorporated right from the start  - when the TS image was created, using a box-iron to develop the colour? If so, then from the symmetry, the linen would have been folded in 4 - lengthwise then width-wise (see above link). It's not impossible that the linen would have been folded before 2nd stage thermal development. Indeed, that might provide an explanation for the divider-like faint longitudinal and transverse 'seams' one sees, somewhat paler than the rest of the body image or background regions.

Later thoughts:  prompted by the result of the wash tests with water then soap/water, one could hypothesize/rationalize as follows. When the imprint is heated with the iron, there are two distinct Maillard reactions - one with the flour "impurity layer" and one with the linen itself, each providing carbohydrate, protein or both. It's the browned coating with its Maillard/caramelized products that washes off with soap and water, but those associated with the linen fibres stay put. It is presumably the latter we see today in the faint, scarcely visible image. Originally, the image would have been more intense, due to the impurity derived carbohydrate and/or protein. For Charles Freeman to claim as he does that investigators have totally ignored image degradation over the centuries (to sustain his scientifically-bankrupt line that the TS is  'just a painting')  is not only wrong. It is insulting. Maybe if he took the time to read the scientific literature, instead of dismissing scientists as art history philistines, which they may or may not be (it being of little consequence and probably irrelevant where the enigmatic TS negative imprints is concerned) he would see that image degradation is something that always has to be factored into everyone's thinking, and indeed is and has been, whether formally acknowledged or not, at least where this investigator is concerned. The man is way, way out of his depth in attempting to brush aside decades of detailed scientific investigation that shows the TS image is UNIQUE, and cannot therefore be subsumed into art history, least of all when that requires the qualifying assumption (read fix) that the original artist's pigment have (conveniently) detached leaving no trace of their original presence, merely an unexplained negative image (which Freeman mistook at least initially to mean left-right reversed, as in a mirror image).  Forgive my saying Charles, but you're an incorrigible time waster.

 Update: 21 June

Have separated starch from gluten, and tested them singly and in combination with a hot iron. No obvious browning reactions were seen.  It might be soluble flour proteins that are needed for a Maillard reaction (gluten protein is highly insoluble, which explains why it's so easy to separate from starch granules, simply by washing out the latter from a stiff dough with water). Soluble reducing sugars of flour may also be needed, with intact starch not substituting, even at high temperature.While it's of interest scientifically to understand the chemistry, in particular to confirm or disprove the presumed Maillard reaction, ignorance of the precise chemistry does not detract from the hypothesis proposed, namely that the TS image was formed by a browning reaction in an extraneous organic material imprinted onto linen, probably flour glue (its adhesive properties making it an imprinting medium par excellence).

Update 22 June

Here's a headline that appeared in yesterday's Daily Mail (or Daily Wail as some prefer to call it!).

Note there was an estimable 127 comments when I did that screenshot a few minutes ago. Some of them are mine (as Colin Steven, the first two thirds of this blogger's full name). Began with a brief plug for the latest 'hot iron' model, it being simplicity itself, though the Mail does not as I recall permit links so I chose not to risk it. Got into a quite upmarket discussion (for the hard-bitten, don't-give-me-that-bullsh*t  regular clientele of the Mail that is) with one "Birchy of Blackburn" who says he knows this blogger from "Mr. Porter's site". Has he left comments there one wonders? Can't say as I recall input from the north of England.

Thank goodness those green up-vote arrows and red down-vote arrows of the Mail are not copied more extensively. They seem to bring out the worst in people. I much prefer systems like Disqus, where a down-vote simply reduces the tally of up-votes.

Speaking of which (Disqus) here's an opportunist comment placed just a minute ago on the Disqus-hosted Telegraph:

The Pope joins the EU in a sad world of make-believe


ColinB 9 minutes ago 

Title: "The Pope" ... "sad world of make believe".
Fiddlesticks. For one moment I thought that might be a reference to his paying homage to the Shroud of Turin, allowing one shamelessly to plug (without splitting an infinitive) the latest Blue Peter* "Make Your Own Turin Shroud" shamelessly immodest breakthrough discovery. (Link to this posting).

Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one's 3D subject - whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one's subject.Nope, it won't wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those 'mysterious' 3D properties if you use dowloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding "3D" wherever there's tonal contrast in one's 2D image.

Yup, strictly for home (UK) consumption, I call it the Blue Peter model, it being one you can try at home.

"Here's one we made earlier"

Next experiment: the face/head is the major problem as regards contact imprinting. Luigi Garlaschelli said as much, and considered that a bas relief was needed in place of a real face. But why? Most of the face is fairly flat relief, except for (a) the nose and (b) the eye hollows. That's provided one has made a decision NOT to imprint the sides of the face, so as to avoid lateral distortion. It is a simple matter to imprint off the highest relief, simply by patting the linen vertically downwards against 3D relief, never sideways.

Is it mainly the nose that is the problem? What kind of imprint might one obtain if an imprint were taken with linen that had a cut-out, allowing the nose to protrude/poke through? It's a purely theoretical exercise of course, designed to see if the nose is the major problem, and seeing what kind of contact image is obtainable if the nose is prevented from causing too much deformity in the linen.

It was quite difficult to see any 3D imaging of the nose using ImageJ in its Thermal LUT mode. That might be telling  us something (like the substitution of a more forger-friendly bas relief for a real face?)

I shall also try imprinting crossed hands as per Shroud.. There's a simple explanation for why the thumbs are missing.  Try crossing your own hands, dear reader, as per Shroud, in such a way as to lock them together, to prevent one sliding on the other.  Where's the best place to put the thumbs? The 'thumbless' hands may be prima facie evidence for imprinting off a LIVE cooperative subject who's been told to maintain a fixed immobile position  (as if deceased) while imprinting is in progress.

Update Tuesday June 23

Yes those are the next two mini-projects - modelling the crossed hands and "noseless " face, in that order.

The image on the left are the crossed hands one sees with Shroud Scope (Durante, 2002 with added contrast). At first sight it looks as if the subject's right hand is crossed over his left, partly obscuring the latter. But it's an imprint which creates a mirror image (left-right reversed). The image on the right shows how the subject would have looked had one seen him with one's own eyes and/or taken a photograph. So that is the configuration that I (or my partner) will have to adopt prior to pasting with flour glue, draping with linen and then imprinting: left hand will be placed over right. The thumb of the left hand will be slipped out of sight behind the wrist of the right hand, serving as an anti-slide lock (see earlier) so will escape being imaged. Likewise the thumb of the right hand -  which will simply be kept out of sight by hiding behind the fingers of the same hand. Yes, those "missing thumbs" are easily accounted for in a contact imprinting model. Why might a forger not want thumbs "in the picture"? Easy. Look at one's own hand. The thumb is not in the same plane as the fingers, being rotated at almost 90 degrees out of plane.  It also occupies a lower horizontal plane than the fingers unless the hand is pressed flat  against a hard surface. Any attempt to imprint the thumbs risks producing a result that looks a bit "wrong" as an imprint, even if anatomically correct. Solution: tuck the thumbs out of sight, so they don't get imprinted. Summary: left hand will be crossed over right, then the two coated with flour paste. Linen will be draped over and patted gently, with no attempt to imprint right into the junction of the two hands, thereby achieving that gap in the image where the linen has bridged the step between higher and lower levels. I may even place a small  adhesive pad  at the approximate site one would expect a nail to be used if through the palm rather than wrist to see where it appears as a dimple on the imprinted image.

Afterthought: one does not wait for one's partner to be free if one imprints in "LUWU" instead of normal "LOTTO" presentation. LUWU (Linen Underneath With Underlay) is where the linen is draped over something soft, like several thicknesses of bath towel, and the "subject" pressed into it from above. That can be done solo to get a quickie result. What's more it's more likely to have gaps in the image due to bridging across steps in level, because there's no means of manually moulding linen to contours unless in LOTTO mode (Linen On Top, Then Overlay).
 Preliminary result: will appear here shortly.

Flour imprint of my own crossed hands, LUWU mode, before and after photo-enhancement.

The image on the left is the as-is imprint ( no photediting) that stubbornly remained after (a) thorough rinsing and kneading with cold water (b) vigorous brushing of surface with a tiff-bristle toothbrush (c) application of soap and water. In other words, the image, while very faint (as per Turin Shroud!) is one that might still be there in years, decades, mainly longer. The image on the right is the same, after applying my favourite settings in Microsoft Office Picture Manager (mainly an increase in contrast, with minor adjustment to brightness and midtone setting). Note the missing region (as per Shroud!) where the linen has bridged the height-difference between upper and lower hand.

Negative aspects: there is excessive lateral distortion, an effect no doubt of employing the LUWU imprinting mode with too soft and underlay, causing too much contact between linen and the sides of the wrist etc. That can be easily remedied by switching to LOTTO mode (tomorrow), using manual moulding. My wife has agreed to be the subject, but that will require hands folded in the opposite configuration (right over left) to avoid contact between flour paste and rings!.

Update: Have been accused of trolling for the first of 5 comments placed on a Christopher Booker thread in the Telegraph (currently 6737 comments in total!).

Judge for yourselves dear reader whether this blogger is a troll. Here are ALL my comments to that thread in chronological order. That's not counting the hundreds I used to send to the Telegraph some 2-4 years ago on the topic of climate change when it was a main interest.

Methinks there's a certain blogmeister in South Carolina, USA who needs to lighten up. He also needs to stop using that obsessional single-issue site of his to snipe and make wholly unjustified character attacks.

The Pope joins the EU in a sad world of make-believe

Title: "The Pope" ... "sad world of make believe".
Fiddlesticks. For one moment I thought that might be a reference to his paying homage to the Shroud of Turin, allowing one shamelessly to plug (without splitting an infinitive) the latest Blue Peter "Make Your Own Turin Shroud" shamelessly immodest breakthrough discovery.

(Link to this site).

Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one's 3D subject - whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one's subject. Nope, it won't wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those 'mysterious' 3D properties if you use dowloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding "3D" wherever there's tonal contrast in one's 2D image.

ColinB to Starland sound a day ago 

Seems there's been an awful lot of going up - right from the time when CO2 records began, without a single break in the upward trend. Guess we'll just have to be patient and wait for it suddenly to start zig-zagging, and then collapse back again, as you seem to be optimistically forecasting. Ah, those confident forecasts. Seems they exist on both sides of the argument.

ColinB to SuffolkBoy a day ago 

You surely don't think there could have been that amount of fluctuation in the 19th century CO2 levels, i.e. in different parts of the globe, in different years, so as to make the average the same or even higher than today's?
If the state-of-the-art measurements we get today show consistent values centred around 0.039% (? adjusted for geographical location, seasonal effects etc, proximity to volcanoes etc) that are consistently nudging upwards year-on-year then some might think it's scarcely possibly that levels were yo-yoying wildly as your cited chart suggests when Trollope or Dickens were writing their novels, and went on doing so right through to the sudden stabilizing effect of 'Love Me Do' and the Merseybeat.

ColinB to SuffolkBoy a day ago 

Thanks for the clarification. I checked your link. It's a snapshot of course, with a relatively narrow time window - 6 weeks- with most of the extra CO2 coming from south of the equator. Reasons? Maybe biodegrading of old roots and foliage before new growth and/or rainy seasons get underway. Am not sure. But the pattern on that chart is a result, needless to say, of unequal heating of the Earth's surface and the seasonal effects due to the Earth's axis being tilted relative to its plane of rotation about the Sun. Those same effects create climate but also weather of course, i.e. cyclonic updraughts in the tropics, anti cyclonic down-draughts in the more temperate regions, all helping to even out and eventually equalizing the localized excess or deficit of CO2 relative to the global mean. Moral: beware snapshots, even those on 6 weeks long exposure if discussing weather and/or climate. Best to focus on annual averages, where the CO2 chart is a smooth consistently upwards curve, not the sawtooth one we see in plots of month-by-month values.

ColinB a day ago 

AGW or not? Here we have a supra-scientific, quasi-theological conundrum, one that is setting one Homo interneticus at the throat of another. But there are far more important issues (well, immediate ones) that need our attention, like external threats to our polity and way of life. Sorry, grandchildren, you'll have to wait your turn in the queue.
We need the equivalent of the First Council of Nicea urgently to thrash out the issues, to adjudicate, and then rule on what's a heresy (or at any rate, a sterile tail-chasing exercise that helps no one) and what's orthodoxy.
Or there again, we could compromise (old English pastime). Let's watch closely what happens to the ice in the Arctic and Antarctic. If there's progressive melting, regardless of what happens to air or sea temperature, then we can conclude the planet is warming dangerously, and take no chances with those GHGs . Get those solar panels installed and quick.
If on the other hand the ice cover were to remain the same, give or take a few good years and bad years, then let's discuss other more important issues affecting our security and welfare, like, say, the current visa-free mass migration via overloaded vessel from Africa into Europe, the progressive sovietization of the eurozone, the imminent incorporation of Greece into the Russian sphere of influence...

Today, I've put up another 7 or so comments on an entirely different topic, but not a single plug anywhere to my new Shroud model. That trolling must have been a passing phase...

Middle-lane hogging is a dangerous act of wilful stupidity

Further update: 21:10  June 23

This comment has just appeared on the shroudstory site from Thibault Heimburger MD.

in response to Dan:

From Colin in “the Telegraph”: “Simply paint a gluey cold water slurry of plain white flour onto one’s 3D subject – whether a real person or a bas relief (probably the latter for the face), imprint onto linen, then press the dried imprint with a really hot iron (linen setting). Hey presto, one gets a negative sepia-coloured Shroud-like image of one’s subject. Nope, it won’t wash out, so may well be permanent. It may even display those ‘mysterious’ 3D properties if you use downloadable software (ImageJ etc) that excels in finding “3D” wherever there’s tonal contrast in one’s 2D image.”

Colin seems to be a very strange person.
Here and on his own blog he looks like a true scientist.
Now, in “the Telegraph” (!!), we have the very simple final answer.
No Colin, your results have nothing to do with the TS image properties.
Is Colin serious or not ?

Yes, Colin is serious, even when he writes to the Telegraph. TH may not be aware, that this blogger has a long association with the Telegraph. It was at a Telegraph/E.on -sponsored BrainsTrust ("Talking Energy") that he got to meet and talk to Sir David King, UK's Chief Scientific Adviser and other influential policy makers on various matters to do with Green initiatives. I'll see if I can find some links (from 5 or 6 years ago).  Yup, here's something unearthed from from the sciencebod archives.

Daily Telegraph Jan 2, 2010

Close-up. lower right. That's your host, who was invited to pen 10 weekly blogs for the main newspaper, and then invited to put the first question to the expert panel.

And yes, Colin is deadly serious about the new simple two-stage imprinting process. It may not have used white flour (which incidentally was available to the well-off in medieval times, being simple to make in principle by sieving stone-ground wholemeal flour) and it may not have used a hot iron, or nitric acid or limewater for Stage 2 colour development. But I do maintain with a high degree of certainty that the image was produced by a two stage imprinting/colour development that resulted in the image appearing to be intrinsic to the linen fibres themselves, whether that is or is not the case. In fact, the fibres from the latest experiment above could serve as a handy model system for investigating that very question, with a view to applying them to the Shroud itself.  So far, I've avoided speculation as to what remains after the washing procedures described - whether it's still modified flour components, modified linen fibres, or a mixture of both.  Researching the TS image has to be a slow and methodical trial-and-error process, given we have no clues whatsoever as to the processes that took place to produce that image. The STURP findings tell us next to nothing about the chemical make-up of the image layer. Thibault Heimburger, sad to say, is not part of the solution. He is part of the problem, being relentlessly negative and non-constructive in his never-ending stream of dismissive observations.

Update: Wed 24 June

Have posted this to the article by Michael Fabricant, MP for Lichfield: entitled "The EU referendunm is a race against time"

"Just a few days ago, an Ipsos MORI poll – if you believe any poll since May 7 – reported that 66 per cent would vote to stay in the EU and only 22 per cent would vote to leave."

Where on earth did the writer get that figure? At the DT's recently updated poll (see link to the Ipsos Mori chart) the gap has narrowed to 55% IN and 45% OUT. What's more the two plot lines are converging!

PS The same chart is at the end of the article. Hover one's pointer over the latest portion to get the actual figures I quoted.

Further postscript (IMPORTANT!): there's something not quite right about the DT's chart. If one moves the pointer slightly, one finds there are TWO snapshot polls given for June 2015, with a big difference between the two. Michael Fabricant MP (who penned this article) has quoted the earlier of the two values, which are those put out recently by the pollsters themselves.

Either there's been a mistake in plotting out the IpsosMori data, OR, opinion is shifting rapidly towards OUT, and IM knows that, explaining why there are now two quite different results for June 2015. OK, so opinion polls can be misleading, as shown by the GE results, but there's no need to make them any more misleading than they already are by quoting out-of-date results when things are in a state of rapid flux.

Further update (last on this posting): with help from my wife, yesterday's experiment has been done, but in LOTTO mode(so far at Stage 1 imprint only) I decided finally to use my hands  as the "subject", having tutored my assistant in correct patting technique, use of my camera etc, in the course of which a sudden thought occurred to me which should have come sooner: the way to avoid lateral distortion in this technique is to apply paste only to those parts one wants to be imaged. That way, it doesn't matter if one's assistant is overzealous, gets pat-happy, straying round those forbidden sides! Result,assuming the result is not a total disaster, will be reported on the next posting.

Successful result - a good set of photographs. Draft title for next posting:

Man on the Turin Shroud:  the mystery may finally be solved - at least in principle.